February 20, 2018 / 12:55 PM / a year ago

Danes bid farewell to Prince Henrik, queen's husband who wanted to be king

The coffin leaves the church after the funeral of Prince Henrik which took place at Christiansborg Palace Chapel in Copenhagen, Denmark February 20, 2018. Ritzau Scanpix Denmark/Bax Lindhardt/via REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Thousands of Danes bid farewell to the late Prince Henrik ahead of his funeral on Tuesday, despite a controversy over his choice not to be buried in the tomb prepared for him and his wife Queen Margrethe.

The royal family, prime minister and France’s ambassador to Denmark were among those who attended a private service at the Christiansborg Palace Chapel in the centre of Copenhagen, while a few hundred people gathered outside to pay their respects.

“I’ve come to say goodbye to the prince. It means a lot to me as an immigrant that even though he was born outside Denmark he still became a part of the royal family,” said Iraqi-born Makarim Ibrahim, 51.

Some 20,000 Danes have visited Prince Henrik’s coffin in the past three days while he lay in state.

Last August Henrik said that he did not wish to be buried next to the queen, breaking a 459-year-old tradition. Shortly afterwards, the palace issued a statement saying that he had dementia.

The 83-year-old French-born prince died in his sleep last week. It was afterwards announced that the palace would respect his wish not to be buried in a tomb in Roskilde Cathedral prepared for him and Margrethe, who he said had never acknowledged him as her equal.

Instead, Henrik’s body will be cremated and half of the ashes scattered in Danish waters and half buried in the garden of Fredensborg Castle, north of Copenhagen, where he died.

As in most monarchies, a Danish princess becomes queen when her husband takes the throne, but a man does not become king through being married to a queen.

Reporting by Emil Gjerding Nielson, writing by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

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